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ISRAEL TARGETS TERROR TUNNELS FROM GAZA

IDF uncovers terror tunnels in Gaza (photo credit: IDF)

 'Seek out and destroy' - that is the mission of thousands of Israeli troops who are now advancing into Gaza to demolish the Hamas terror tunnels. Only 24 hours earlier, thirteen Palestinian terrorists popped out of one such tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa; under the cover of dark, they were armed to the teeth and bent on massacring as many of its members as possible…  

 July 17, 4:30 AM: A young female IDF soldier peering at her infra-red screen suddenly spots thirteen Palestinian terrorists exiting from a hole in the ground near the kibbutz. They quickly gather their weapons and regroup. She immediately sounds the alert, which includes the dispatch of a pilotless drone. The terrorists hear the drone overhead, realize they have been spotted and race back to the tunnel pier trying to escape. IDF forces blast the pier, and it is not clear how many terrorists may have been killed. What is obvious is that the alert IDF observer prevented the terrorists from reaching of Israeli children, women and men who were sleeping in their homes just a short distance away. If they had, the terrorists would have murdered many of them in their beds and perhaps taken some hostages back to Gaza through the tunnel. 

 

 Clear and present danger 

 
They hoped they would then be able to announce a heroic victory and then announce their willingness for a ceasefire. Subsequent international pressure would be exerted on Israel to agree.

 Consider this: Why did Hamas conduct such a risky attack that could have resulted in their carrying out a massacre of Israeli civilians? They hoped they would then be able to announce a heroic victory and then announce their willingness for a ceasefire. Subsequent international pressure would be exerted on Israel to agree. Hamas would then claim that it emerged as victor. However, this has backfired and triggered the Israeli land operation into Gaza, because Hamas is suspected of building some ten other tunnels deep under the border and the Israeli security fence, designed to have their exit piers near Israeli villages. The goal was to launch similar attacks on Israeli civilians in the future. 

 

 Were it not for that alert IDF observer, they may have come close to reaching the kibbutz and slaughtering its members. (Incidentally, the IDF has installed an observation network around all its land and sea borders that is manned continually by specially trained observers, mainly young women soldiers, who are considered to be more meticulous than most males. That is, every second there is a pair of eyes monitoring Israel's borders for any attempted terror infiltration. The nature of the threat makes this essential). 

 
Hamas has again shown the world that it bears full responsibility for starting the current conflagration and refusing to stop it.

 There is no way Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right hand man, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, could now have agreed to a ceasefire after the attempted Sufa strike was so stark and fraught with danger. After refusing the Egyptian proposal, which Israel accepted, and violating the UN five-hour humanitarian time-out on July 17th, Hamas has again shown the world that it bears full responsibility for starting the current conflagration and refusing to stop it. 

 
IDF forces prepare themselves to enter Gaza (ohoto credit: IDF)

 Now the IDF has sent specially trained engineering units across the border to search for the tunnels that have been dug ten meters and more underground. The problem is there is no detection equipment capable of finding the tunnels, especially after they have been finished, and it turned out that the Israel Air force could not provide the necessary solution. Therefore the first job is to find the entrance pier to the tunnel. The Palestinians have proved to be experts in camouflaging the piers from inside buildings such as homes, mosques, hospitals and schools where they cannot be seen. In a surprising development, UNWRA officials in Gaza have announced that a routine inspection at one of their schools found 20 rockets hidden under the building. The UN condemned the terrorists for risking the pupils' lives. As a rule, UN officials tend to ignore this terrorist tactic for fear of retribution. Another major problem is that the Palestinians are known to have booby-trapped some of the tunnels; therefore, the IDF engineering units must take great caution. 

 

 Egypt blames Hamas for Palestinian casualties 

 
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

 In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hauled Hamas over the coals for rejecting Egypt's ceasefire proposal. Shoukry slammed the terrorists: 'Had Hamas accepted Egypt's proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians'. (This included the four boys who were killed, possibly by an IDF shell, while being allowed to play football near a Hamas target on the beach of Gaza). 

 

 Merkel backs Israel's right to self-defense 

 
'Both sides must accept painful compromises, but we stand by the side of Israel when it comes to self-defense'.

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also joined U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders in supporting Israel's right to defend its civilians from terrorism: 'Both sides must accept painful compromises, but we stand by the side of Israel when it comes to self-defense'. The Chancellor also noted that Hamas has acquired a 'new quality' in weapons, an apparent reference to the rockets that have been bombarding Israel. She added that countries that come under attack must be allowed to defend themselves. 

 

 Three strikes and Hamas is out 

 
After the massive rocketing of Israeli civilians and the restrained response by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel is being perceived internationally as being justified in defending its civilians.

 The abortive Hamas tunnel attack on Kibbutz Sufa is a pivotal moment in the Palestinian terror campaign against the Jewish state. After the massive rocketing of Israeli civilians and the restrained response by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel is being perceived internationally as being justified in defending its civilians. (Without the support of defense Minister Moshe Yaalon it is unlikely that Netanyahu could have withstood the vociferous demands for an immediate invasion of Gaza by Foreign Minister Lieberman and many other cabinet ministers). The Sufa attack paved the way for Israel to invade Gaza with the aim of eliminating this threat. And after Hamas twice rejected ceasefire offers, is Israel is now bent on demilitarizing Gaza? 

 

 This has been the third time that Hamas rocketing has boiled over and sparked Israeli counter-offensives in Gaza. (Remember Cast Lead in 2008 and Pillar of Defense in 2012). Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared the current operation is to 'restore security for Israeli civilians'. Obviously Israel will not stop until the terror tunnels have been destroyed. However, is it prepared to carry on until it eliminates the entire rocket arsenal in Gaza and the terrorists' capacity to rebuild and launch another more lethal assault in the future? At present, Hamas is believed to retain a significant part of its rocket arsenal. If Netanyahu and Yaalon do decide to go for broke, they will likely have the support of the government and Israeli public opinion. But will they still have Obama, Merkel and al Sisi in their corner? 

 

 


 David Essing

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